A chthonian is a sentient squidlike creature that lives deep beneath the earth's surface. The being is the creation of Brian Lumley and was first featured in his short story "Cement Surroundings" (1969)—though the creature never made a direct appearance. The chthonians had a more prominent role in Lumley's novel The Burrowers Beneath (1974).
Flowing tentacles and pulpy gray-black, elongated sack of a body... no distinguishing features at all other than the reaching, groping tentacles. Or was there—yes—a lump in the upper body of the thing... a container of sorts for the brain, basal ganglia, or whichever diseased organ governed this horror's loathsome life!
—Brian Lumley, The Burrowers Beneath
Chthonians are described as immense squids, with elongated worm-like bodies coated with slime. Despite their squid-like appearance, chthonians are land-dwellers and are even harmed by water. Chthonians are powerful burrowers, live for more than a thousand years, and are protective of their young. It is said that a chanting sound accompanies every chthonian, and that by such they can be detected while underground and unseen.
The most important individual chthonian is the gigantic Shudde M'ell, which is worshiped by the rest.
In Charles Stross's "The Jennifer Morgue", the chthonians are long-lasting enemies of the Deep Ones.
In Greek mythology, chthonians and from the root chthon, which means "earth" in Greek) inhabit the underworld and are the dark, shadowy complement to the Olympians. See chthonic entry.
In other media, see:
- franchise: Tremors (1990 franchise)